At Think Productive North America, we recognise that being productive means doing inner work such as continually adjusting your mindset and outer physical work like organizing your inbox and to- do- list. We love simple yoga practices that can be done at your desk as they combine mental calmness and clarity with flexibility and strength exercises. Read about other effective daily rituals here and here, and learn practical techniques at our workshops.
Take a moment now to consider how you are feeling. Perhaps you are tired, worried, stressed or anxious? How are you sitting? Maybe you are hunched, unbalanced or cramped. If this is true for you, then your focus, creativity and communication will be sluggish leading to procrastination, lethargy, discontentment and general unproductiveness.
Simple yoga at work helps:
Note of caution: if you have any specific health issues, please check with your practitioner before attempting these exercises.
– Increase energy through greater intake of oxygen and increased blood circulation. Sitting for five plus hours is a productivity killer and has the same health effect as smoking a pack of cigarettes! 1
– Improve posture and relieve discomfort from headaches, neck and eye strain, and back/ shoulder/hip stiffness for example. When pain occupies your attention, productivity dips. Over time, yoga helps lengthen ligaments, tendons and muscles increasing flexibility and strength in your body’s movement.
– Improve concentration and focus through breathing exercises. These help silence the workplace noise (mental and physical) allowing you to be more mindful, alert and focused. You become present in the moment aiding positive connections with others. Irritation and anger are reduced.
– Enhance creativity and alertness. Once you are more energised and focused, your mind will be open to creativity as mental clutter is cleared.
– Increase morale. When you are focused and energetic, you’ll be more positive and self- confident making you more effective in your job responsibilities and your dealings with clients and co-workers.
– Relieve stress. Yoga helps moderate reactions to stress, as well as lifting depression. It increases levels of GABA, a neurotransmitter which both lifts mood and suppresses anxiety.
Try it yourself
So why not take even just 10 minutes during the work day, perhaps between calls or meetings to practice some simple yoga stretches or breathing exercises at your desk, in a meeting room or out in the fresh air. It will help you be healthier, happier and more productive. For starters, try the exercises below. Let us know how you get on and share any further exercises with us.
– Easy breathing
Sit with your back straight and breathe deeply a few times. Inhale through the nostrils for 5 counts. Hold your breath for 10 counts. Exhale through the mouth for 10 counts. Repeat 5-10 times.
– Eye exercises
Sit upright with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Without moving your head, raise your eyes upwards as far as you can, and then downwards as far as you can. Now look left and the right. Repeat a few times. Blink quickly a few times to relax the eye muscles. Rub your hands together to create warmth and then put them gently over your closed eyes for a few seconds. Now blink a few times.
– Neck rolls
Sit upright with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Close your eyes. Let your chin drop down to your chest. Circle your neck slowly, taking the right ear to the right shoulder, the head back, and then the left ear to the left shoulder. Do 3-5 rolls and then switch directions and do another 3-5 rolls.
– Cow stretch
Sit upright with your back straight and feet flat on the floor. Put your hands on your knees. Breathe in, arch your back and look up towards the ceiling. As you breathe out, round your spine and drop your head down to look at the floor. Repeat 3-5 times.
– Seated alter pose
Inhale and lift your arms in the air above your head. Clasp your hands and invert your palms so they face the ceiling. Lean to your left. Hold for 5 to 8 breaths, and then switch sides.
– Wrist stretch
Stand up at your desk. Turn your hands as far as you can without pain so that the insides of your wrists face your computer and your fingers face the edge of the desk. Lean away from your desk with your arms straight while flattening your palms as much as possible. Standing further away from your desk relieves pain.
– Seated spinal twist
Sit sideways on your chair with both feet flat on the floor and back straight. Hold the back of the chair with both hands and twist towards the back of the chair. Repeat the twist on the opposite side of the chair. Repeat the sequence 3-5 times.